The historic Playaz Basketball Club (NJ) is a staple at Peach Jam, and anything short of being a competitive contender in mid-July is considered a disappointment for Director Jimmy Salmon and company. The Playaz shouldn’t have too many concerns about their Peach Jam contention in 2019 as head coach Kiela Brevard brings in a talented core. The Playaz always seem to surpass expectations, and on paper, this lineup is their most talented in years.
The Playaz are fortunate enough to have two stars, junior forwards Elijah Hutchins-Everett and Jabri Abdur-Rahim. Abdur-Rahim (247 Composite No. 58) is the son of long-time NBA veteran Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and Jabri has a lot of his father’s game. Abdur-Rahim was named Gatorade State Player of the Year as a junior, averaging 16 points and seven rebounds while shooting over 50% from the floor for New Jersey powerhouse Blair Academy. Abdur-Rahim is a member of the USA Basketball mini-camp roster, and will undoubtedly be a go-to guy for the Playaz.
Hutchins-Everett (247 Composite No. 64) is ranked by next to Abdur-Rahim and is actually slotted 38 spots higher in 247’s individual player rankings. At 6-foot-11, Hutchins-Everett is a skilled forward offensively, operating the paint with elite hands and feet. The Immaculate Conception (NJ) product had a strong high school season and will be the anchor in the middle on both ends, and a focal point on the offensive side of the ball. The two big men should be equally as impactful, and the Playaz will need both of them to consistently provide at a high-level in order to pick up wins.
Five guards will split time for the Playaz, and they’ll likely need one of them to step up alongside Jyáre Davis. A 6-foot-7 forward from Sanford School in Delaware, Davis (247 Composite No. 99) is a dynamic, physical guard that should make an instant impact for the Playaz. Davis was named Gatorade State Player of the Year in Delaware after averaging 17.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game in 2018-19. The two-time First Team All-State selection also owns a Gold Medal, starring for USA Basketball’s U17 3-on-3 team.
Four more juniors will see minutes - Barra Njie (6-foot-3), Zion Bethea (6-foot-3), John Wilson III (5-foot-11) and Richie Greaves (6-foot). Njie started at point guard for renowned St. Benedict’s Prep (NJ), and the 6-foot-3 guard is starting to flourish. Njie, who also started for The Firm on the Adidas Gauntlet as a sophomore, is all over the floor when he’s check in the game. He has great speed in the open court and knows how to effectively facilitate. Njie will trigger a strong defensive backcourt alongside Bethea. The strong, sturdy guard shoots the ball well from the perimeter and should have good chemistry with his Immaculate Conception high school teammates on the squad. Bethea has high-major offers in his pocket and is just starting to scratch the surface of his overall potential. Wilson plays for St. John’s College in Washington, DC, but the Brooklyn-native decided to head back to the northeast for his grassroots ball. Wilson is a fierce competitor, a trait he shares with the Greaves, the final member of the backcourt. Greaves is a proven winner, playing a big role for Roselle Catholic during the 2018-19 high school season as well as last year with the Renaissance’s runner-up E16 squad.
Playaz junior Elijah Hutchins-Everett (247 Composite No. 64)
The only notable big man alongside Hutchins-Everett and Abdur-Rahim is Nick Jourdain. A 6-foot-8 big man starting alongside Hutchins-Everett and Bethea at Immaculate Conception, Jourdain should make an impact as the Playaz lone returner from 2018. Jourdain didn’t see many minutes last season, but the experience he gained is invaluable to his potential this season. Jourdain nearly averaged a double-double during the 2018-19 high school season, and if nothing else, he will provide the Playaz with a hard-nosed defender and rebounder.
One thing is for sure; Brevard will need his big men to stay out of foul trouble. There isn't much depth to the frontcourt, and the Playaz can't afford to have their heavy-hitters on the sidelines.
The Playaz probably won’t extend more than eight or nine players. They’ll be heavily relying on Abdur-Rahim, Hutchins-Everett, and Davis to play to their rankings, and they’ll immediately be looking to establish roles in their rotation. This team has the makings of a strong defensive unit, but they will desperately need their stars to stay out of foul trouble and impact the game on both ends of the floor. This group has more than enough talent to be a Peach Jam contender, and it should come as no surprise if they put up one of the best regular-season records.